The General Motors Company recently resumed its position as the top seller of automobiles in the world after a three-year absence. Supplanting Toyota wasn’t that difficult as the Japanese automaker had to deal with a production crisis following a devastating temblor that shook its home market in March 2011. That hurt Toyota’s production capabilities for the rest of the year, giving GM room to reclaim the top spot.
GM, however, managed to move up in sales because it is offering several new or very much improved products. One of the stars in the GM line up is its compact Chevrolet Cruze model, a vehicle first rolled out in 2008 and now available across the GM distribution network.
The Chevy Cruze is a hot seller and the model line is being expanded. Please read on for some news about where the Cruze is headed including a bit of speculation on our part on what else GM might have up its sleeve for its popular compact.
Station Wagon — Not available in the United States or Canada, but now sold in Europe, Chevy’s wagon model offers a generous amount of storage capacity, exceeding 50 cubic feet with the rear seat folded down. America’s love affair with the wagon is a tepid one, but as consumers embrace more fuel efficient models, we could see this wagon stateside by 2015.
Diesel Cruze — Diesels and GM are nothing new, with such engines used abroad especially in Europe. In North America, diesel trucks are available, but we haven’t seen a diesel-powered GM car in 20 years. That’s about to change as a 2.0-liter diesel producing 160 horsepower is being readied for the 2013 model year, one that is expected to compete with the Jetta TDI.
Cruze Coupe — When GM officials were question this past spring about a possible Cruze coupe, we heard an emphatic “no” as its response. However, “no” with GM can be interpreted as, “we don’t have hard plans for this car, but you can bet we’ve been testing such a model in secret for some time.” There is only one way that a Cruze coupe would hit the market: if it can proven that it will be profitable. If GM can justify the coupe, you’ll see one. A convertible might also be made available.
Electric Cruze — The Chevrolet Volt rides on the same platform as the Cruze, thus an electric Cruze would certainly be redundant. Down the line, however, GM might consolidate everything to lower the cost of EV development by outfitting the Cruze with electric power much as Ford has done with the Focus.
Turbo Cruze — Early on, GM offered a turbocharged gasoline engine with the Cruze. Displacing at 1.4 liters, this engine provides extra power while balancing that increase with good gas mileage. One of its main competitors, the Dodge Dart, is angling for more the performance pie and has also introduced a turbo matching the Cruze’s displacement and producing 160 hp. This past January Autoblog reported that an SRT Dart is in the works, a car that could bang out 300 hp. Look for Chevrolet to offer a competing model to take on the amplified Dart.
The Chevrolet Cruze isn’t a perfect vehicle and has had some recall issues in 2012 involving more than 400,000 vehicles. Competition is fierce with models from Hyundai, Toyota, Kia, Dodge, Honda, Ford and Nissan offering excellent alternatives to the bow-tie compact. Still, the Cruze is a big improvement over the retired Cobalt and earlier Cavalier, the first compact from GM that seems destined for worldwide acclaim.